One of the biggest complaints about a Walt Disney World vacation is the fact that it is often very crowded. The thought of dealing with throngs of people is enough to make any parent think twice about taking their kids to the “Most Magical Place on Earth”.
We’ve been to Walt Disney World at some of the busiest times of the year, and we can tell you that surviving crowds at Walt Disney World is very possible if you follow some sage advice.
Surviving Crowds at Walt Disney World
The most obvious way to handle crowds is to just avoid them. Unfortunately, there seem to be fewer days of the year that we would consider as “slow” days for Walt Disney World. With events nearly all year-round, you can expect a decent crowd almost any time you go. Even so, if avoiding the worst crowds is your goal, you would do well to avoid visiting on holidays, school breaks, and over the summer.
For those of us that can’t schedule our trip to take advantage of the slow periods, crowds are going to be something we will have to deal with.
The larger the crowds, the longer the lines. And nobody enjoys waiting in line. While waits of 15-20 minutes are usually bearable, anything more than that becomes a frustration, especially when you have to experience it again with each new attraction you go to. Here are some tips for minimizing how much time you spend waiting in line.
- Hit the parks early. You can see and do a lot more during the first few hours the park is open.
- Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (Disney Resort Guests only)
- Use FastPass+ to shorten your wait on at least 3 attractions.
- Play games or activities to help pass the time while waiting in line.
In addition to the long lines at attractions, you can expect to wait for food as well. Long lines and difficulty finding a table at a counter service restaurant can be frustrating. Our strategy is typically to eat breakfast before the park opens, snack throughout the day, then grab an early dinner.
- Make Dining Reservations 180 days in advance to guarantee a table.
- Try eating at non-traditional times to avoid the rush.
- Pack snacks or consider going back to your resort or eating off-property.
Walt Disney World provides transportation between all of its resorts and theme parks. Disney buses, boats, trams, and monorails are not immune to the effect of large crowds. In addition, Disney has stepped up its security recently, which is yet another line you will have to endure when getting around.
- Plan accordingly. Give yourself at least 90 minutes to get where you are going using Disney transportation
- Consider renting a car or bringing your own
- Uber can be a useful alternative
- Carry only what you need and have your bags open and ready to be inspected at security checkpoints.
The larger the crowds, the more reason there is to be aware of your surroundings and where your kids are. It only takes a few seconds for a crowd to swallow your child if you are separated. While Disney is famous for how it handles lost and missing children, there is no comfort for parents in those moments when you can’t find your child.
- Have a meeting place
- Make sure everyone knows what to do in case they get separated
- Equip your kids with your contact information
- Slow your pace/Use a stroller for children who can’t keep up.
Pack Plenty of Patience
We love Walt Disney World, but even in our happy place, the heat, humidity, and crowds can get the best of us. We’ve had our share of meltdowns over the years. A lot of that comes from when our high expectations meet with forces we can’t control.
As much as you need to plan ahead, you also need to leave room to take breaks and go with the flow when necessary. This advice has made even the craziest times at Walt Disney World doable for us.
Got a tip for surviving Walt Disney World crowds that we didn’t cover? Let us know what it is!